Saturday, May 19, 2007

Portrait Painting

I took a portrait painting class as a follow up to my Intro to Oils class. This class was acrylic or oil optional. The first session I tried acrylic, but I quickly realized that with a live model, acrylics just dry too quickly to be useful. So for the rest of the classes I used oils.

I'm not really sure how I feel about this class or the results. I went into the class feeling like it would be an easy transition from the last class, considering I draw faces for a living. I quickly found out that painting portraits would me much more challenging than I thought. When drawing I can usually get a likeness when I want to. But for some reason, in every class, I couldn't get one piece to look like the model. Unlike the previous painting class, I left every class quite frustrated.

Here are some samples, but there's not much I can say about them. I must be perfectly honest: None of these are 100 percent my work. The instructor would go around the class (which by the end was all of 2 people), and pick up a brush and fix problems with our paintings. Not to say this method didn't teach me anything, but I think I would have preferred more verbal instruction to go along with it. But if i had to put a number on it I would say these are about 85% my work. But the 25% that looks good on all these is the instructor, who is a very talented painter.

I have, however, enjoyed the process. I am beginning to get the hang of paint. This is definitely something I want to do more of on my own, and definitely something I want to improve upon. So I'm sure you will see more paintings in the future.


Joe Bluhm said...

From what I've found, portrait painting, live, is one of the most challenging tasks you will find, as an artist. I know this only because I know you, and likeness matters to you (as it should) more than most people. It's a blessing and an affliction, but what you'll find is that if you put the right amount of time into it, it will get easier. It's good that you were not satisfied with the class, because you SHOULDN'T BE - it's your first time painting portraits in 10 years and if you were satisfied you'd be an ass.

Keep at it, because you will get better, you will learn and you will like your results. Focus on what you get OUT of each effort and what you learn.. don't worry about what's 'not working' just worry about how to fix it.

THE Incredible Andy said...

I took a portrait painting class that revolutionized my painting process. There are a dozen good ways to paint stuff, but my teacher was all about alla prima painting with a super worked out drawing underneath. We spent 3 hours just drawing the model and pulling the composition and proportions together until we could just paint without having to worry about the drawing. We then spent another 9 hours applying paint, and we used the creeping doom approach (try your damnedest to put the exact colors you see on the canvas in the exact shape you see them), and then after that we had 3 more hours for fixing mistakes. We went through that process twice, and after that we could do 3-hour portraits that were better than the 15 hour ones we did earlier in the semester.

Basically, just go for exactly what you see, don't try to slowly and indecisively kinda get there eventually. Most of all, don't paint until you like your drawing. It sucks having to juggle drawing, composition, and paint all at once.

Again, it's not the only way to paint portraits, but it worked for me and I think it might help. Keep it up!